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Calypso
Stylistic origins West African Kaiso, Native and European music
Cultural origins Late 19th century African slaves, Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago
Typical instruments trumpet, trombone, Flute, saxophone, electric guitar, bass guitar, conga, bongos, Steelpan, drumset
Mainstream popularity Early to mid 20th century
Subgenres
Oratorical calypso - Extempo - Young Brigade
(complete list)
Fusion genres
Chutney - Chut-kai-pang - Rapso - Soca
Regional scenes
Anguilla - Antigua and Barbuda - Aruba - Barbados - Costa Rica - Grenada - El Salvador - Panama - Saint Kitts and Nevis - Virgin Islands - Venezuela
Other topics
Carnival - Calypsonian - Calypso-like genres - Calypso tent - Picong

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music which originated in Trinidad and Tobago.

Contents

Caribbean history

The islands had a core population of descendants of African slaves and workers and remnants of the indigenes, while colonial masters changed rapidly bringing settlers from France, Spain and the United Kingdom, together with their music styles. According to another version, the French brought Carnival to Trinidad, and calypso competitions held at Carnivals grew in popularity, especially after the abolition of slavery in 1834.

While most authorities stress the African roots of calypso, in his 1986 book Calypso from France to Trinidad, 800 Years of History veteran calypsonian The Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) asserted that calypso also descends from the music of the medieval French troubadours. The name was originally kaiso, which is now believed to come from Efik ka isu 'go on!' and Ibibio kaa iso 'continue, go on', used in urging someone on or in backing a contestant.[1]

Over 100 years ago, calypso further evolved into a way of spreading news around Trinidad. Politicians, journalists, and public figures often debated the content of each song, and many islanders considered these songs the most reliable news source. Calypsonians pushed the boundaries of free speech as their lyrics spread news of any topic relevant to island life, including speaking out against political corruption. Eventually British rule enforced censorship and police began to scan these songs for damaging content. Even with this censorship, calypsos continued to push boundaries.

Popular music

The first calypso recordings, made by Lovey's String Band, came in 1912 and inaugurated the "Golden Age of Calypso". By the 1920s, calypso tents were set up at Carnival for calypsonians to practice before competitions; these have now become showcases for new music.

The first major stars of calypso started crossing over to new audiences worldwide in the late 1930s. Attila the Hun, Roaring Lion and Lord Invader were first, followed by Lord Kitchener, one of the longest-lasting calypso stars in history—he continued to release hit records until his death in 2000. 1944's Rum and Coca-Cola by the Andrews Sisters, a cover of a Lord Invader song, became an American hit despite the song being a very critical commentary on the explosion of prostitution, inflation and other negative influences accompanying the American military bases in Trinidad at the time.[1]

Music of Trinidad and Tobago
Canboulay Calypso
Chutney Steelpan
Calypsonian Calypso tent
Picong Parang
Soca Rapso
Pichakaree
Timeline and samples
Anglophone Caribbean
Anguilla - Antigua and Barbuda - Bahamas - Barbados - Bermuda - Caymans - Dominica - Grenada - Jamaica - Montserrat - St. Kitts and Nevis - St. Lucia - St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Trinidad and Tobago - Turks and Caicos - Virgin Islands
Other Caribbean
Aruba and the Dutch Antilles - Cuba - Dominican Republic - Haiti - Martinique and Guadeloupe - Puerto Rico

Calypso, especially a toned down, commercial variant, became a worldwide craze with the release of the "Banana Boat Song", a traditional Jamaican folk song, whose best-known rendition was done by Harry Belafonte on his 1956 album Calypso; Calypso was the first full-length record to sell more than a million copies. 1956 also saw the massive international hit Jean and Dinah by Mighty Sparrow. This song too was a sly commentary as a "plan of action" for the calypsonian on the widespread prostitution and the prostitutes' desperation after the closing of the United States naval base on Trinidad at Chaguaramas.

In the 1957 Broadway musical Jamaica, Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg cleverly parodied "commercial", Harry Belafonte style Calypso.

Several films jumped on the Calypso craze in 1957 such as 20th Century Fox's Island in the Sun that featured Belafonte and the low budget flms Calypso Joe (Allied Artists), Calypso Heat Wave (Columbia Pictures), and Bop Girl Goes Calypso (United Artists).

Early forms of calypso were also influenced by jazz such as Sans Humanitae. In this extempo melody calypsonians lyricise impromptu, commenting socially or insulting each other, "sans humanité" or "without humanity" (which is again a reference to French influence).

Elements of calypso have been incorporated in jazz to form calypso jazz.

In the mid-1970s Lord Shorty combined the Afro-Caribbean calypso with rhythmic elements of Indo-Trinidadian Chutney music to create soca, which would grow to replace calypso as the dominant genre at carnival.

See also

References

  1. ^ Richard Allsopp, Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (Oxford UP, 1996), p. 131.
  • Quevedo, Raymond (Atilla the Hun). 1983. Atilla's Kaiso: a short history of Trinidad calypso. University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. (Includes the words to many old calypsos as well as musical scores for some of Atilla's calypsos.)
  • Hill, Donald2nd edition). Temple University Press, 2006 ISBN 1-59213-463-7
  • "Listen to Calypso Music". Samples of Calypso Music. http://www.numusiczone.com/genre.php?genre=Calypso. Retrieved January 3, 2006.  

External links

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Calypso
Stylistic origins West African Kaiso, Native and European music
Cultural origins Late 19th century African slaves, Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago
Typical instruments trumpet, trombone, Flute, saxophone, Spanish guitar, bass guitar, conga, bongos, Steelpan, violin, bamboo sticks, glass bottle/spoon, claves, maracas, cuatro, concertina, jawbone
Mainstream popularity Early to mid 20th century
Subgenres

Oratorical calypso

  1. REDIRECT Template:• Extempo
  2. REDIRECT Template:• Shango
  3. REDIRECT Template:• Obeah
  4. REDIRECT Template:• Shouter calypso
  5. REDIRECT Template:•
    (complete list)
Fusion genres

Chutney

  1. REDIRECT Template:• Chut-kai-pang
  2. REDIRECT Template:• Rapso
  3. REDIRECT Template:• Soca
  4. REDIRECT Template:• Gospelypso
  5. REDIRECT Template:•
Regional scenes

Anguilla

  1. REDIRECT Template:• Antigua and Barbuda
  2. REDIRECT Template:• Aruba
  3. REDIRECT Template:• Barbados
  4. REDIRECT Template:• Costa Rica
  5. REDIRECT Template:• Grenada
  6. REDIRECT Template:• Panama
  7. REDIRECT Template:• Saint Kitts and Nevis
  8. REDIRECT Template:• Virgin Islands
  9. REDIRECT Template:• Venezuela
Other topics

Carnival

  1. REDIRECT Template:• Calypsonian
  2. REDIRECT Template:• Calypso-like genres
  3. REDIRECT Template:• Calypso tent
  4. REDIRECT Template:• Picong

[1].]]

Music of Trinidad and Tobago
Canboulay Calypso
Chutney Steelpan
Calypsonian Calypso tent
Picong Parang
Soca Rapso
Pichakaree
Timeline and samples
Anglophone Caribbean
Anguilla - Antigua and Barbuda - Bahamas - Barbados - Bermuda - Caymans - Dominica - Grenada - Jamaica - Montserrat - St. Kitts and Nevis - St. Lucia - St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Trinidad and Tobago - Turks and Caicos - Virgin Islands
Other Caribbean
Aruba and the Dutch Antilles - Cuba - Dominican Republic - Haiti - Martinique and Guadeloupe - Puerto Rico

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago.

The modern music history of Trinidad and Tobago began with the arrival of Spanish settlers who decimated the native Arawak population, enclosing them in work villages called encomiendas. The Arawak population declined precipitously, and the Trinidadian government responded by welcoming white and non-slave African Roman Catholic settlers. French Creoles came in large numbers, from Saint Vincent, Dominica and most significantly Martinique, establishing a local community before Trinidad and Tobago were taken from Spain by the British. The slaves were forbidden to talk to each other (in any case, they spoken dozens of different languages, so communication was inherently difficult). A creole culture was formed, combining elements of hundreds of African ethnic groups, native inhabitants of the islands, French, British and Spanish colonizers. Carnival had arrived with the French, and the slaves, who could not take part in Carnival, formed their own, parallel celebration called canboulay. In 1834, these two celebrations merged because the slaves were emancipated, while the islands' ethnic mix further diversified by the mass migration from India beginning in 1845. Most were indentured servants and brought their own folk music, primarily from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, to the native mix, resulting in chutney music. In addition to Indians, Syrians, Portuguese, Chinese and Africans came to the islands in waves between 1845 and 1917. Stick-fighting and African percussion music were banned in 1880, in response to the Canboulay Riots. They were replaced by bamboo sticks beaten together, but these too were eventually banned. In 1937, however, they reappeared, transformed as an orchestra of frying pans, dustbin lids and oil drums. These steelpans are now a major part of the Trinidadian music scene and are a popular section of the Canboulay music contests. In 1941, the United States Navy arrived on Trinidad, and the panmen, who were associated with lawlessness and violence, helped to popularize steel pan music among soldiers, which began its international popularization.

Contents

Etymology

It is thought that the name "calypso" was originally "kaiso," which is now believed to come from Efik "ka isu" 'go on!' and Ibibio "kaa iso" 'continue, go on,' used in urging someone on or in backing a contestant. [2] There is also a Trinidadian term, "cariso" which is used to refer to "old-time" calypsos.[3]

Origins of calypso

The official birth of Calypso was 1912, when Lovey's String Band recorded the very first song of the genre while travelling in New York City. In 1914, the second calypso song was recorded, this time in Trinidad, by chantwell Julian Whiterose, better known as the Iron Duke and famous stick fighter. Jules Sims would also record vocal calypsos. The majority of these calypsos of the World War I era were instrumentals by Lovey and Lionel Belasco. Perhaps due to economic duress during the war, no recordings of note were produced until the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the "golden era" of calypso would cement the style, form, and phrasing of the music.

From that time on, calypso further evolved into a way of spreading news around Trinidad. Politicians, journalists and public figures often debated the content of each song, and many islanders considered these songs the most reliable news source. Calypsonians pushed the boundaries of free speech as their lyrics spread news of any topic relevant to island life, including speaking out against political corruption. Eventually British rule enforced censorship and police began to scan these songs for damaging content.

Even with this censorship, calypsos continued to push boundaries, with a variety of ways to slip songs past the scrutinizing eyes of the editor. Double entendre, or double-speak, was one way, as was the practice of denouncing countries such as Hitler's Germany and its annexation of Poland, while making pointed references toward England's policies on Trinidad. Sex, scandal, gossip, innuendo, politics, local news, bravado and insulting other calypsonians were the order of the day in classic calypso, just as it is today with classic hip hop. And just as the hip-hop of today, the music sparked shock and outrage in the moral sections of society. Countless recordings were dumped at sea in the name of censorship, although in truth, rival U.S. companies did this in the spirit of underhanded competition, claiming that the rivals' material was unfit for U.S. consumption. Decca lost untold pressings in this manner.

An entrepreneur named Eduardo Sa Gomes played a significant role in spreading calypso in its early days. Sa Gomes, a Portuguese immigrant who owned a local music and phonograph equipment shop in Port of Spain, promoted the genre and gave financial support to the local artists. In March 1934 he sent Roaring Lion and Attila The Hun to New York to record; they became the first calypsonians to record abroad, bringing the genre out of the West Indies and into pop culture.[4]

Popular music

The first major stars of calypso started crossing over to new audiences worldwide in the late 1930s. Attila the Hun, Roaring Lion and Lord Invader were first, followed by Lord Kitchener, one of the longest-lasting calypso stars in history—he continued to release hit records until his death in 2000. 1944's Rum and Coca-Cola by the Andrews Sisters, a cover of a Lord Invader song, became an American hit despite the song being a very critical commentary on the explosion of prostitution, inflation and other negative influences accompanying the American military bases in Trinidad at the time.[5]

Calypso, especially a toned down, commercial variant, became a worldwide craze with the release of the "Banana Boat Song", or "Day-O", a traditional Jamaican folk song, whose best-known rendition was done by Harry Belafonte on his 1956 album Calypso; Calypso was the first full-length record to sell more than a million copies. (Ironically, the music style on that album was Mento.) The success of that album inspired hundreds of "Folkies," or the American folk music revival to imitate the "Belafonte style," but with a more folk oriented flavor. The Kingston Trio would be a good example. 1956 also saw the massive international hit Jean and Dinah by Mighty Sparrow. This song too was a sly commentary as a "plan of action" for the calypsonian on the widespread prostitution and the prostitutes' desperation after the closing of the United States naval base on Trinidad at Chaguaramas.

In the 1957 Broadway musical Jamaica, Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg cleverly parodied "commercial", Harry Belafonte style Calypso.

Several films jumped on the Calypso craze in 1957 such as 20th Century Fox's Island in the Sun that featured Belafonte and the low budget flms Calypso Joe (Allied Artists), Calypso Heat Wave (Columbia Pictures), and Bop Girl Goes Calypso (United Artists). Robert Mitchum, in 1957, released the album, "Calypso...is like so," on Capitol records, capturing the sound, spirit, and subtleties of the genre. Dizzy Gillespie recorded a calypso album in 1964, "Jambo Caribe." with James Moody and Kenny Barron. Soul shouter Gary "US" Bonds released a calypso album in 1962, titled "Twist up Calypso" on Legrand records, shortly after returning home from his military post in Port of Spain.

Calypso had another short burst of commercial interest in 1988, when Tim Burton released the horror/comedy movie Beetlejuice, and used Harry Belafonte´s "Jump In The Line" as the soundtrack´s headliner.

Calypso is part of a spectrum of similar folk and popular Caribbean styles that spans benna and mento, but remains the most prominent genre of Lesser Antillean music. Calypso's roots are somewhat unclear, but we know it can be traced to 18th-century Trinidad. Modern calypso, however, began in the 19th century, a fusion of disparate elements ranging from the masquerade song lavway, French Creole belair and the stick fighting chantwell. Calypso's early rise was closely connected with the adoption of Carnival by Trinidadian slaves, including camboulay drumming and the music masquerade processions.

Early forms of calypso were also influenced by jazz such as Sans Humanitae. In this extempo (extemporaneous) melody calypsonians lyricise impromptu, commenting socially or insulting each other, "sans humanité" or "without humanity" (which is again a reference to French influence).

Calypso evolved very closely with other pan-Atlantic musical genres such as Jazz, Mento, Kompa, Son, and Highlife.

In the mid-1970s Lord Shorty along with the more fluid rhythmic phrasing of Mighty Sparrow, combined the Afro-Caribbean calypso with rhythmic elements of Indo-Trinidadian Chutney music to create soca, which would grow to replace calypso as the dominant genre at carnival.

Calypso Jazz

Calypso jazz is a style of music and improvisation that combines elements of calypso music with elements of traditional jazz. Several notable calypso jazz albums include A Drum is a Woman by Duke Ellington and Calypso Jazz by Don Elliott.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Blatter, Alfred (2007). Revisiting music theory: a guide to the practice, p.28. ISBN 0415974402.
  2. ^ Richard Allsopp, Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (Oxford UP, 1996), p. 131.
  3. ^ Mendes (1986), p. 30.
  4. ^ Funk, Ray. Roaring Lion (Raphael Arius Kairiyama De Leon AKA Hubert Raphael Charles, 15.6.08 - 11.7.99)
  5. ^ Consuming the Caribbean

References

  • Hill, Donald R. Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad. (1993). ISBN 0-8130-1221-X (cloth); ISBN 0-8130-1222-8 (pbk). University Press of Florida. 2nd Edition: Temple University Press (2006) ISBN 1-59213-463-7.
  • Mendes, John (1986). Cote ce Cote la Trinidad and Tobago Dictionary. John Mendes, Arima, Trinidad.
  • Quevedo, Raymond (Atilla the Hun). 1983. Atilla's Kaiso: a short history of Trinidad calypso. (1983). University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. (Includes the words to many old calypsos as well as musical scores for some of Atilla's calypsos.)

External links


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